Academic journal article College Student Journal

College Students' Volunteering: Factors Related to Current Volunteering, Volunteer Settings, and Motives for Volunteering

Academic journal article College Student Journal

College Students' Volunteering: Factors Related to Current Volunteering, Volunteer Settings, and Motives for Volunteering

Article excerpt

Research has not explored the types of settings that college students prefer to volunteer for and how these settings might be influenced by personal factors (e.g., demographic, academic major, volunteering motivation, religiosity). Students from a Midwestern university (N = 406, 71.9% female) completed a survey that inquired about their volunteering history and motivation for volunteering. This study found that most students (88.2%) reported a history of volunteering, although only 22.9% were current volunteers. The most common volunteer settings for participants were organizations related to promoting health and wellness, serving children/delivering education, and reducing poverty. Students volunteering in health-related settings were more likely to be currently volunteering. The strongest motives for volunteering in this study were Values (e.g., altruistic volunteering) followed by Understanding (e.g., volunteering for the opportunity for new learning experiences). These findings are useful for determining what factors might be used to promote continuous volunteering by college students.

Key words: college students, motivation, volunteer settings, religiosity


The community service volunteer rate of college students is declining (Marks & Robb Jones, 2004). According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (2013), 27.4% of those aged 16-19 were volunteering, compared to only 18.9% of 20-24 year olds. Gallant, Smale, and Arai (2010) found that only 54% of college students reported volunteering in the past year. Of those that volunteered in the past year, 34.2% volunteered for 1-4 hours a month, 36.5% volunteered for 5-15 hours a month, and 16.1% volunteered over 15 hours a month (Gallant et al., 2010). The decreasing rates of volunteering are unfortunate due to the numerous benefits that students receive from volunteering. Previous literature highlights that students can experience cognitive gains and moral development (Ewing, Govekar, Govekar, & Rishi, 2002; Klink & Athaide, 2004), improvement in skills related to leadership, teamwork and time management (Madsen, 2004), academic performance (Moser, 2005; Klink & Athaide, 2004), and self-confidence (Bussell & Forbes, 2002).

Age, race/ethnicity, sex, personality traits, and various academic-related elements have been identified as factors related to a higher likelihood of volunteering. A national study of first-year undergraduates found that: students over age 20 were more likely to volunteer than traditional-age first year students; African American, Latino, and Asian American students were more likely to volunteer than Caucasian students; and students with higher levels of academic achievement (SAT or ACT scores) were more likely to volunteer than their lower-achieving peers. Furthermore, students who belonged to Greek organizations were almost twice as likely to volunteer; and students who live on campus are more likely to volunteer than those who live off campus (Cruce & Moore, 2007). Additionally, research has found that individuals scoring high on agreeableness (Carlo, Okun, Knight, & de Guzman, 2005; Mowen & Sujan, 2005) and extraversion (Carlo et al., 2005) were more likely to volunteer.

Several studies have noted that female students were more likely to volunteer than males (Clerkin, Paynter, & Taylor, 2009; Cruce & Moore, 2007; Gallant et al., 2010; Carlo et al., 2005). Cruce and Moore (2007) observed additional differences regarding students' academic major and their likelihood of volunteering, with those majoring in education, business, biological science, and the social sciences more likely to volunteer than arts and humanities majors. While Clerkin, Paynter, and Taylor (2009) confirmed the connection between majors in the social sciences and a higher probability of volunteering, they found that humanities majors were also more likely to volunteer than peers of other majors. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.